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40% Transfer Bonus from HSBC Rewards to British Airways Avios

HSBC Rewards has implemented a 40% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios for the month of July 2021, following a similar 35% transfer bonus back in November 2020.

The 40% Transfer Bonus

Until July 31, 2021, you’ll receive a 40% bonus when you convert HSBC Rewards points to British Airways Avios.

The standard conversion ratio is 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 10,000 Avios, so the ratio has effectively been bumped up to 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 14,000 Avios for the month of July – effectively, a shade over 2:1.

Keep in mind that HSBC Rewards follows a rather peculiar redemption structure when it comes to its trio of frequent flyer partners:

  • A minimum of 25,000 HSBC Rewards points must be redeemed at once
  • On top of the minimum amount, HSBC Rewards points may be redeemed in increments of 10,000 points

Therefore, you have the option of converting your HSBC Rewards points in chunks of 25,000, 35,000, 45,000, etc., earning you 14,000, 19,600 Avios, 25,200 Avios, and so on. If you wanted to convert, say, exactly 50,000 HSBC Rewards points into 28,000 Avios, you’d need to do so in two transactions of 25,000 points each. 

HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
Welcome Bonus
Up to 100,000 HSBC Rewards points
Annual Fee
First Year Free
First-Year Value
$736

On the surface, it seems like this transfer bonus coincides nicely with a strong signup offer we’re currently seeing on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.

Until December 28, 2020, the HSBC World Elite is offering an outstanding welcome bonus of 100,000–130,000 HSBC Rewards points, depending on where you live in Canada:

  • If you live outside of Quebec, you’ll earn up to 50,000 HSBC Rewards points in the first year:
    • 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase
    • 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon spending $5,000 in the first six months (although you’ll still have to wait the full six months before receiving these points)
    • 10,000 HSBC Rewards points upon adding your first authorized user (for a $50 annual fee)
    • The annual fee of $149 is also rebated for the first year.
  • If you live in Quebec, you’ll earn up to 80,000 HSBC Rewards points in the first year:
    • 20,000 HSBC Rewards points upon first purchase
    • 50,000 HSBC Rewards points upon keeping your account open and in good standing for six months
    • 10,000 HSBC Rewards points upon adding your first authorized user (for a $50 annual fee)

Unfortunately, most cardholders’ experiences indicate that even if you live outside of Quebec and complete the minimum spending within the first few months, the spend-based component of 20,000 HSBC Rewards points often still get credited to your account only after a six-month waiting period.

Therefore, cardholders who signed up under the current offer probably won’t be able to take full advantage of it.

However, you will be able to take advantage of the 40% bonus using the initial 20,000 HSBC Rewards points that you earn from the HSBC World Elite, because that’s granted when you make your first purchase.

Therefore, if you just signed up for the card since the current offer was launched in May and you’ve met the $5,000 spending (outside of Quebec), then you’ll end up with at least 35,000 HSBC Rewards points: 20,000 points from the initial bonus, and 15,000 points from the 3x base earning rate on purchases.

Those 35,000 points would normally convert into 14,000 British Airways Avios, but under the current bonus, you’d end up with 19,600 Avios.

That’s already enough for a one-way transatlantic flight already on the Toronto–Dublin route with Aer Lingus, or a round-trip short-haul flight within North America with American Airlines – and you haven’t even received the rest of your bonus yet!

Is It a Good Deal to Transfer HSBC Rewards to British Airways Avios?

If you happen to have HSBC Rewards points sitting around from previous offers (such as when the card was doling out a record-high 100,000+ points back in the winter of 2020) or from your regular spending, then it’s worth thinking about whether the 40% transfer bonus represents the best use-case for you.

As I’ve written about previously, the baseline redemption method for HSBC Rewards is to offset against travel purchases at a rate of 200 points = $1, or effectively 0.5 cents per point (cpp). You simply charge any travel purchase to your card and then retroactively apply your points to the purchase and “wipe” it from the statement.

(And if you redeemed your points this way against a refundable travel purchase and later went ahead and cancelled it, then the refund would go back to your credit card, essentially leaving you with a statement credit.)

Meanwhile, if you were to transfer HSBC Rewards points to Avios with a 40% transfer bonus in place, then we can think about how much value you’d need to redeem your resulting Avios for in order to “beat” the baseline redemption.

Let’s imagine that you have 50,000 HSBC Rewards points in your balance, which could be redeemed as $250 in travel purchases.

Until the end of July, it can also be converted into 28,000 British Airways Avios – although keep in mind that you’ll need to make this transfer in two chunks of 25,000 points each, as outlined above.

In my view, 28,000 Avios is easily the more attractive option here – you’d simply need to redeem them for at least 0.89cpp in order to come out ahead compared to the baseline cash option.

Extracting 0.89cpp from your Avios should be pretty effortless, whether you’re looking to book Toronto–Dublin on Aer Lingus, Montreal–Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc, short-haul flights on Oneworld carriers within other parts of the world, or a creatively assembled Avios multi-carrier booking around the world.

Additionally, with a 40% bonus in place, the Avios transfer option also handily beats out the other two frequent flyer partners: converting at a 25:9 ratio to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or a 25:8 ratio to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles – unless you’re one of the dedicated folks who had applied for the HSBC World Elite with the sole objective of earning KrisFlyer miles so you can fly Singapore Suites one day.

Conclusion

The 40% bonus from HSBC Rewards to British Airways Avios represents a fantastic opportunity to extract maximum value out of your HSBC Rewards points. If you have any sitting in your account at the moment (perhaps from the record high 100,000-point bonuses last winter), consider moving them over to Avios during this month.

You might need to strategize some of your spending to top-up to the required points thresholds for a transfer, but I’d expect that effort to be well worth it in terms of the ultimate redemption value.

While the timing of this promotion aligns very well with the record-high offer we saw on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard last year, it isn’t the best timing for anyone who’s applied more recently – due to the fact that it can often take the full six months to receive your welcome bonus even if you complete the spending in the first month.

With a 35% transfer bonus showing up in November 2020 and now a 40% bonus in July 2021, hopefully we can count on this promotion to return year after year so that our recently accumulated stash of HSBC Rewards points can be put to optimal use.